Googling can help keep brain youthful

For the first time in my life, I had Welsh rabbit for supper last Saturday night.
Made by our son, it was delicious!
Friday, we had watched an episode of Gomer Pyle, in which Gomer was a “Welsh Rarebit Fiend.”
In this episode, Gomer eats so much of his favourite dish that the restaurant owner warns him that too much Welsh rarebit can produce bad dreams.
And sure enough, Gomer has nightmares which cause him to sleepwalk. And in his nightmares, the usually mild Gomer tells Sgt. Carter what he really thinks about him!
Thus proving the old wives’ tale.
After the episode, we had four questions: What exactly is Welsh rarebit? Where did the name come from? Is it Welsh “rarebit” or Welsh “rabbit?” And is Welsh rarebit really supposed to produce bad dreams?
As we thought, Welsh rarebit is a tasty cheese sauce on toast. Delicious when made by the recipe in the 1950s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
The Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia reports, “Eighteenth-century English cookbooks reveal that it was then considered to be a luscious supper or tavern dish.”
Wikipedia also says the term Welsh “rabbit” was first recorded in 1725, and the term Welsh “rarebit” was a later corruption first recorded in 1785.
For most people, both names are now acceptable–Welsh rabbit or Welsh rarebit.
But Michael Quinion differs. Quinion, who is an authority on the English language, says of Welsh rabbit, “the word is not ‘rarebit’ by the way, ‘rabbit’ is here being used in the same way as ‘turtle’ in ‘mock-turtle,’ which has never been near a turtle.”
The origin of the term, on the other hand, is not quite certain. But most likely, the name originated because the poorest people in Wales at the time could not afford meat. So they ate a cheese sauce on toast and called it “Welsh rabbit.”
As for the myth about bad dreams, the writers of Gomer Pyle didn’t make it up! In fact, the myth is so pervasive that in 1904, Winsor McCay wrote a comic strip titled “Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend.”
This comic was a morality play about the danger of gluttony. In each strip, McCay portrayed a person who had eaten too much (not always Welsh rarebit) and, as a result, had scary dreams.
This comic strip later was immortalized in a 1906 movie with the same name.
So that’s what my research revealed about Welsh rarebit.
Some people may say, what a waste of time! Why spend two or three hours looking up such useless information?
Because it’s there, and it’s interesting! Everything you learn enriches your entire life.
And most of all, because researchers now say that older people can lower the risk of memory loss and brain deterioration by using the Internet well.
According to an article in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Dr. Gary Small of the University of California in Los Angeles reports that searching for information on the Internet can help older people with decision-making and complex reasoning.
His research found that looking up things is markedly more helpful than simply reading. The decisions you have to make while googling are especially helpful.
So go ahead–google all you want. And remember that while you’re finding information, you’re also creating a more youthful brain.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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